Emergency action plans (EAPs) are often overlooked by businesses, but they are a critical component of workplace safety.  EAPs are written documents required by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards that facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during a workplace emergency.  


EAPs describe how employees should respond to different types of emergencies, taking into account the specific layout, structural features, and emergency systems of the workplace. 



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Involve Employees in Planning Your EAP 

One important aspect of creating an EAP is to involve not just management, but also employees in the planning process.  Employees’ viewpoints can be valuable in identifying potential hazards and developing effective emergency response procedures. EAPs should not be hidden in employee handbooks but rather should be separate, easily accessible document, given the critical nature of the information they contain. 


EAPs typically have minimum requirements that include means of reporting emergencies, evacuation procedures, escape routes, and authorized personnel to order an evacuation.  


For example, in the case of a fire, the EAP should establish who is authorized to order an evacuation, under what conditions, and which routes should be taken. It may also include instructions to close doors, turn off equipment, shut windows, or take other necessary actions to prevent further hazards. 


White-Collar Workplaces Also Need EAPs 

Even for white-collar workplaces such as software companies, EAPs are important because emergencies such as fires can happen anywhere. It is not enough to rely on common knowledge to handle emergencies; having a well-defined EAP in place can help ensure a coordinated and efficient response to protect the safety of employees and others in the workplace. 

Failure to have an EAP or to follow it can have serious consequences, including penalties from regulatory agencies and legal liabilities.  It is essential for businesses to prioritize the development and implementation of an effective EAP tailored to their specific workplace, and to regularly review and update it as needed.  By doing so, businesses can proactively safeguard the well-being of their employees and minimize the risks associated with workplace emergencies. 


Businesses must recognize the critical importance of Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) in ensuring workplace safety. EAPs serve as essential written documents that guide employers and employees in responding to emergencies according to OSHA standards. By involving employees in the planning process, businesses can benefit from their valuable insights and create effective emergency response procedures.  


It is crucial for EAPs to be easily accessible and not buried within employee handbooks, given the critical information they provide. These plans encompass reporting protocols, evacuation procedures, escape routes, and authorized personnel responsibilities.  


Whether in office environments or software companies, EAPs are vital for all workplaces, as emergencies can occur anywhere. Common knowledge alone is inadequate for handling emergencies, making a well-defined EAP necessary to ensure a coordinated and efficient response that protects everyone’s safety.  


Failure to have an EAP or neglecting to follow it can result in severe consequences, including penalties and legal liabilities. Therefore, businesses must prioritize the development, implementation, and regular review of tailored EAPs to safeguard their employees’ well-being and effectively manage workplace emergencies. 


See our in-depth video with an employment attorney about OSHA here


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